China to fight Trump tariffs ‘at any cost’


President Donald Trump is considering slapping an additional $100bn in tariffs on Chinese goods.China has vowed to fight “unilateral US protectionism at any cost” after US President Donald Trump ordered officials to examine posing an additional 100 billion dollars (A$130 billion) in tariffs on Chinese goods.

“On Sino-US trade, China has made its position very clear. We don’t want a trade war, but we are not afraid of such a war,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce told state-run news agency Xinhua on Friday.

The ministry also vowed to take “comprehensive countermeasures,” according to Xinhua, although it did not add further details.

The comments echo the fiery rhetoric in state and Communist Party-backed publications over the past week as the standoff with the US escalates into a possible all-out trade war.

In a statement on Thursday, Trump said he had ordered the move “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” to US tariffs of 25 per cent on 50 billion dollars (A$65 billion) worth of Chinese goods he announced earlier this week.

“Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers,” Trump said.

He also said he had ordered the secretary of agriculture “to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests”.

The retaliatory tariffs ordered by Beijing this week targeted US goods including key exports like soybeans, wheat, aircraft and chemical products designed to hit the rural regions where Trump is particularly popular.

They were announced after the Trump administration unveiled a list of 1300 Chinese products to be targeted by tariffs including from the aerospace, information and communication technology, robotics, and machinery industries.

Tensions have been rising between the world’s two largest economies since August, when the US president initiated an investigation into anti-competitive trade practices by China and alleged theft of US intellectual property.

The potential total of 150 billion dollars (A$195 billion) in tariffs on Chinese goods come on top of the Trump administration’s announcement last month that it was slapping duties of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium products.

Key allies including the European Union, Canada and Mexico were excluded from those tariffs, but not China.

Trump’s tariffs have been criticised by US businesses and members of his own Republican party alike.

“The announcement that the administration may issue 100 billion dollars in additional tariffs on Chinese products is irresponsible and destabilising,” Dean Garfield, head of the Information Technology Industry Council, said.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse said Trump was “threatening to light American agriculture on fire” and that “if he’s even half-serious, this is nuts.”

“Let’s absolutely take on Chinese bad behaviour but with a plan that punishes them instead of us,” he said. “This is the dumbest possible way to do this.”

Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Pat Roberts as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also came out against the tariffs earlier this week.

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